PREA: A Long Road for Incarcerated Survivors

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“Sexual abuse is a crime, and should not be the punishment for a crime.”
– US Department of Justice Letter to Governors, March 5, 2015

prison stock photoWhile this statement might seem obvious to those who work in sexual violence prevention and response, it represents a profound shift in how the wider public, and even those in corrections, view sexual assault in the context of prison. Rape and sexual harassment have long been considered an inevitable—or even deserved—part of the prison experience. Additionally, sexual violence is ingrained in the prison system, perpetrated (by inmates as well as guards) as a means of establishing and maintaining power dynamics and prison hierarchy.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed in 2003 to address the epidemic of sexual assault in all corrections facilities, but comprehensive guidelines didn’t take effect until 2012, with the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape. Finally, just this month, May 2015, the Department of Justice will begin to enforce those guidelines by withholding funding from states that are not in compliance. The National Standards specify that any confinement facility (including prisons, jails, lock-ups, juvenile facilities, and community and immigrant detention centers) must:

  • Adopt a “zero-tolerance policy” towards sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • Train both staff and inmates on sexual abuse
  • Train staff on effective and professional communication with LGBTQ and gender non-conforming inmates
  • Provide at least two internal and one external way for inmates to report abuse
  • Provide access to outside advocates for emotional support related to the abuse, and provide as much confidentiality as possible
  • Discipline perpetrators of sexual assault, both guards and inmates
  • Separate youth in adult correctional facilities and prevent unsupervised contact with adults
  • Provide access to support services for inmates with disabilities and limited English proficiency
  • Ensure inmates have timely access to appropriate medical and mental health services, on par with community level of care

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Affirmative Consent Legislation Proposed in NC

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Get excited y’all because NORTH CAROLINA IS CONSIDERING AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT LEGISLATION!!! Currently, California is the only state that has passed an affirmative consent law, but, as you can see on this map from affirmativeconsent.com, 14 more states – including North Carolina – are currently considering similar laws. At the end of last month, North Carolina State Senators Floyd McKissick (D; Durham, Granville) and Jeff Tarte (R; Mecklenburg) submitted an Affirmative Consent Standards Bill to the N.C. State Legislature, which is very similar to the one in California.

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Cupcakes & Cocktails: Meet the Judges!

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As Cupcakes & Cocktails rapidly approaches, we are excited to announce the panel of judges for this year’s cupcake contest. With a wide range of experiences and backgrounds, we can’t wait to hear their feedback as they sample the scrumptious sweets available this Sunday!

Sera Cuni

Sera Cuni

Sera Cuni grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut, with a family of self-taught cooks who enthusiastically embraced their Italian and Czech heritages. After attending Green Mountain College in Vermont on a soccer scholarship, Sera took her passion for food and cooking back to Connecticut, where she graduated from culinary school. Over the course of her career, Sera has worked at the Fearrington House Inn and Nordstrom’s Café. In 2006, Sara Foster hired her as a chef and kitchen manager for the Foster’s Market Chapel Hill restaurant. Since then, she and her wife Susan have purchased the Chapel Hill location and continue to abide by Sara Foster’s primary food ethic—that great food doesn’t have to be fancy. These days, you can catch Sera working away as co-owner and chef at The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering.

Yelena Etten

Yelena Etten

Yelena Etten has been interested in baking for as long as she has loved sugar. She remembers helping her mother make yeast rolls at the tender age of 3. Once her family moved from Russia in 1992, she signed up for her first cake decorating class and was the youngest student in the class. She has been making cakes for the last 20+ years, perfecting her technique and flavor combinations. She was the Cupcake Champion for the Center’s Cupcakes & Cocktails in 2014 and is looking forward to helping judge all of the yummy cupcakes this year.

Bill Smith

Bill Smith

Bill Smith hails from the town of New Bern on the North Carolina coast. An accomplished chef and writer, his food writing has been featured in well-known publications like the New York Times, and his cooking has twice earned him a vote into the final five for James Beard’s Regional Best Chef award. Bill currently creates interesting spins on classic Southern dishes at Crook’s Corner, which was named one of “America’s Classics” by the James Beard Foundation. After 22 years at Crook’s Corner, he continues to interpret heirloom recipes, often resulting in iconic dishes. There’s talk across the nation about his Atlantic Beach Pie, but locals  know that it’s the decadent Honeysuckle Sorbet – available only briefly each May – that’s worth the annual wait.

Molly Stillman

Molly Stillman

Molly Stillman has been sharing her likes, dislikes, and a piece of her mind with the internet for nearly a decade as a life and style blogger. On her blog, Still Being Molly, she writes daily about fashion and beauty, some of her favorite recipes, her DIY and home decor projects, essential oils, photography, product reviews, and life as a wife and mother, and even about money. She’s basically your best friend and a Jane-of-all-trades. Her main passion is entertaining and inspiring others through empowering women to look and feel confident in the skin God gave them. Molly currently resides in Durham with her husband John, their daughter Lilly, and their two dogs, Audrey Hepburn and Tater.

Dorothy Tong

Dorothy Tong

Dorothy Tong is The Cupcake Princess and a champion from the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” She was a proprietor of Cupcake & Cookie, her innovative bakery located in the heart of Los Angeles, California, until she moved to Durham in pursuit of her MBA at Duke University. With her passion for extraordinary desserts, Dorothy’s Cupcake & Cookie specialized in cupcake-filled cookies, cookie-filled cupcakes, and liquid truffles.

Get your tickets for Cupcakes & Cocktails at ocrcc.org/cupcakes for only $40 through April 10. After that, a limited number of tickets will be available at the door for $50. See you on Sunday!

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SAAM Online Activism: Use Your Hashtag for Good

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activistforchangeThis year, you can spread awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month without ever having to leave your keyboard. Ever since the word “hashtag” made its way into Merriam-Webster dictionary, it seems we can no longer ignore the power behind the little symbol, once known as the “pound sign.” Online activism is trending now and what better way to spread awareness about sexual violence than through the power of the internet. In a world where social media is so pervasive, we invite you to participate in SAAM and use your hashtags to advocate for the end of sexual violence.

Ujpeg (2)sing the #SAAM or #SAAM2015 hashtags not only increases awareness to those who follow you, but also connects you with other activists in the movement. Take to Twitter to share the news and inspirational tweets of fellow advocates. See below for details on an Anti-Street Harassment Tweetathon on April 14, where you can be a part of a global event, 140 characters at a time.

InstagramOf course, Twitter isn’t the only outlet to paint the town teal. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) is challenging Instagram users to a #30DaysOfSAAM Instagram contest. Follow them on Instagram @nsvrc to see each week’s challenge posted. Below is an image of the challenge for week one of SAAM. Good luck!

#30DAYSOFSAAM Instagram Contest

jpeg (1) Another way to stay involved is through our Facebook page. There you can find links to events, related articles, photos, and news from the Center during #SAAM2015. Invite your friends to like our page. Be sure to RSVP to the different events we’re hosting this month and invite your friends to those events as well.

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The Problem with Victim-Blaming

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rapeWhile growing up in a rape culture, women are constantly told to follow the “rules” to ensure their safety. This list dictates what women should wear (nothing too short), what they consume (no drinks you didn’t prepare yourself), and even how they commute (never alone, never at night, and never in a “bad part of town”). Not only do these rules perpetuate a series of rape myths, they also result in victim-blaming.

Victim-blaming is a pervasive part of the trauma many survivors experience. Too often when survivors disclose, they are met with a checklist of questions, all centered on their actions instead of the perpetrator’s. Rather than focusing on the inappropriate and illegal conduct of the perpetrator, many will blame the victim for not adhering to the prescribed list of rules. The notion that any “disobedience” of the guidelines could result in or justify sexual assault is not only incorrect but it also discourages survivors from coming forward about their experience.

Victim-blaming occurs for many reasons. Some of it is rooted in notions around masculinity (“boys will be boys”), some of it in a general disregard for women’s bodies, and some of it comes from fear. Sometimes, people resort to victim-blaming to as an attempt to maintain an illusion of their own safety from sexual assault. In this case, it is easier to police the list of rules and insist that following them will prevent assault than to acknowledge the scary truth that rape can happen regardless of what the survivor does or does not do. But rape happens because of rapists—not the length of a hemline, or the amount of alcohol consumed. When people victim-blame, they distance themselves from the victim and keep alive the myth that the responsibility to prevent rape lies on the assaulted, not the perpetrator.

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A Most Delicious Affair: Cupcakes & Cocktails

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Join us for Cupcakes & Cocktails on Sunday, April 12!As the last guests trickled out the doors and into the night, staff and volunteers looked around the room with awe. We had just pulled off our very first Cupcakes & Cocktails fundraiser! Equal parts exhausted and sugar-facilitated enthused, we began to clean up and discuss the highlights of the event.

For some, it was the spirit of competition brought on by the cupcake contest. For others, it was the warm conversation shared with community members. For me, it was the incredible spread of cupcakes. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and baked goods don’t generally excite me. The spread at Cupcakes & Cocktails, however, was different. Every table seemed illuminated with expertly-applied frosting, inventive flavors, and on occasion, the option of a vegan treat. To my left, cardamom cream cheese frosting sat gallantly atop carrot cake while on my right, rich ganache seemed to smother the Black Forest cupcake. Needless to say, by the time we were announcing the winner for the evening, I was experiencing a full-fledged sugar high.

After finally coming down (read: crashing) from all the sugar, I began to worry about my own baking talent, or lack thereof. Fortunately, the cupcake contestants were generous enough to provide us with their recipes so that we can attempt to recreate the magic in our own kitchens.

As the second annual Cupcakes & Cocktails approaches, consider entering this year’s cupcake contest! The event is on April 12, and competition entries are due April 1. If you need some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, check out this recipe for the Fuzzy Navel Cupcake, runner-up of last year’s competition, by Nancee Merritt…

 

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One Billion Rising for Valentine’s Day

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One Billion RisingOne in three women worldwide will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. Around seven billion people live on this planet, so that’s about one billion women and girls.

One Billion Rising is a justice campaign that doesn’t just spread the word – it takes the word around the world. On February 14, 2014, 200 countries held events outside of government buildings, homes, places of worship, and countless other locations to demand justice for women and survivors of gender violence.

In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 women will experience rape at some time in their lives. This number increases to 1 in 4 women on college campuses. And hundreds of thousands of women and girls are bought and sold into sex trafficking each year.

Recent events on colleges campuses across America have shown that coming together as a community, fighting victim blaming, and not allowing colleges and universities to sweep sexual assault under the rug have been hugely successful — but we are not finished. Read more


AmazonSmile

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Support the Orange County Rape Crisis Center by using AmazonSmile!

AmazonSmile is a simple, automatic way to support your nonprofit organization. You only have to register once. After that, simply start at smile.amazon.com, then shop as usual. That’s it! Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase price to the Center. It even works with Amazon Prime.

And while you’re shopping, check out the Center’s Amazon Wish List.


Stalking in Popular Culture

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1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed (NISVS 2010 Summary Report, CDC).In honor of Stalking Awareness Month, I’d like to explore how stalking and other forms of sexual harassment are depicted and discussed through the media we consume. Countless media portrayals regularly misrepresent stalking and other forms of violence, leading to victim-blaming, minimization, and disbelief from society at large.

These misrepresentations can often wildly skew our understanding of offender typology; this is especially true of films such as Fatal Attraction, Misery, and Swimfan – in which the main offenders are women, distracting audiences from the fact that men make up nearly 90% of stalking perpetrators. Beyond even misinformation, the media’s biggest blunder when it comes to stalking is its tendency to minimize and even romanticize stalking behaviors. While this problem spans a wide variety of popular media, I’d like to focus on music.

More so than movies and television, music has constantly attempted to explore the themes of sex, relationships, and love. And as we all know, where there’s love, there’s also the misapplication of it.  While there are literally countless examples of romanticized violence in music, I’m going to focus on only two recent songs and their respective music videos: Maroon 5’s “Animals” (2014) and Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” (2008). I’ve chosen these two due to the extreme disparity in their styles, just to highlight the spectrum of these misinterpretations.

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Remembering Walter Cason

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 In memory of our dear friend Walter

Walter1 copyWalter Cason was the most humble person you would ever have the chance to meet. He loved his family, adored his grandchildren, and was a voracious reader. Never would you know that our friend Walter was a theologian, missionary, source of inspiration for Desmond Tutu, and technology guru.

Dr. John Walter Cason passed away peacefully on November 3, 2014, at Carolina Meadows. A memorial service and celebration of Dr. Cason’s life was attended by family and friends at the Church of Reconciliation on December 6, 2014.

Walter Cason grew up in East Texas and was ordained in the Methodist Church. He obtained a Master of Divinity Degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Walter was a Methodist missionary helping to reestablish Cuttington College near Gbanga, Liberia. He earned his Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary while serving as a missionary and nourished his life-long passion for education and exploring new fields of study.

Walter later became a member of the Evangelical Theological Seminary faculty in Naperville, Illinois, which later became the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1974. He was remembered as an explorer of the new politics of liberation theology and the transformative role of church teachings.

After more than a decade in Liberia, Walter joined the staff of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches, working out of New York City and London to support theological education in Africa. His work led him to travel throughout the African continent supporting seminaries and churches working for social justice.

With his wife, Mary Smithies Cason of Bradford, England, he spent a sabbatical year in Zimbabwe on a research project. He later returned to teach for a semester at the University of Zimbabwe.

Walter and Mary retired to Chapel Hill in 1994 and immediately entered a new life of volunteer service working with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Walter served as Treasurer on the Board of Directors and later as a member of the Finance Committee. He also volunteered at Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws, a local organization that trains and places service dogs.

Both Walter and Mary have been longtime supporters of the Church of Reconciliation. For several years, Walter served on the church’s Finance Committee and also as chair for the Social Justice Committee.

We will remember Walter for his wonderful smile, wise cracks, and commitment to helping others. Our thoughts are with Mary, his children, extended family, and friends.


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